Many a member of San Diego's LGBT community has taken a swipe at mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio for seeking support from the community's worst enemies on the Christian right. A gay man himself, DeMaio's accepted campaign money and endorsements from arch-conservatives such as radio host Roger Hedgecock, who openly mocks gay rights, and Brian Caster, one of the biggest donors to Prop. 8.
But DeMaio's not the only one accused of selling his soul in this arrangement. These same DeMaio supporters are facing bitter accusations of betrayal and hypocrisy from folks on their side, too, like James Hartline, a devoutly religious "ex-gay" activist. Hartline says they've abandoned their morals and family values for political gain.
Hartline stopped by our office last week to share an email exchange he had with Charles LiMandri, a Catholic lawyer best known for his pro-life, anti-gay legal crusades. LiMandri considers himself an expert on "countering the gay agenda," having served as an attorney for the National Organization of Marriage in the Prop. 8 battles and for the San Diego firefighters who sued the city after being required to march in a Pride parade. More recently, LiMandri launched an attack on University of San Diego for hosting a drag show; he's currently demanding that the Catholic university forbid its students from doing internships at organizations that support same-sex marriage.
Yet, LiMandri also donated $500 to DeMaio's campaign.
Hartline went on Facebook and accused LiMandri of "selling out Christianity." In response, LiMandri sent Hartline an email defending the decision, which was based on a personal pledge from DeMaio.
We've pasted the first email at the end of this post. You can also download the entire exchange, which quickly devolved into a Biblical flame war.
Two key points from LiMandri:
"I have told [DeMaio] that I would pray for him. By endorsing him for Mayor, I am not endorsing his lifestyle. Yet, out of Christian concern for his well being, and the well being of our City, I believed that he deserves my support. I hope that by associating with good Christians, that he will become a better person, as I hope for all of us."and
"Carl DeMaio specifically promised me, as a condition of my support, that he would not push the gay agenda issues (including same-sex marriage) as did Mayor Sanders. Rather, he was emphatic with me that he did not believe that the Mayor should concern himself with these issues as they are not his responsibility."Even if DeMaio won't carry the marriage-equality flag as has Mayor Jerry Sanders, whose daughter is gay, DeMaio can't completely avoid LGBT issues. In May alone, DeMaio seconded successful motions to name a street after gay-rights hero Harvey Milk and to fly a rainbow flag over Hillcrest. We emailed LiMandri to ask whether these votes violated a pact he made with DeMaio. He did not respond.
But if DeMaio really did promise LiMandri he wouldn't push the "gay agenda," it might be time for DeMaio to scrub the "LGBT Community" section from his campaign website. This testimonial from Benny Cartwright, a supporter who was hired this month to serve as executive director for the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, could become a liability:
"Carl DeMaio is a role model for the LGBT community. Not only does he stand up for full equality, but he has been a tireless supporter of our LGBT organizations."The role model's campaign did not respond to inquiries.
Here's the full text of LiMandri's first email to Hartline.
I have been sent your posting below attacking me for supporting Carl DeMaio for Mayor. I have done so, at the request of Republican friends I respect, because I believe that he is overall the most qualified candidate. Carl DeMaio specifically promised me, as a condition of my support, that he would not push the gay agenda issues (including same-sex marriage) as did Mayor Sanders. Rather, he was emphatic with me that he did not believe that the Mayor should concern himself with these issues as they are not his responsibility. Instead, he promised to concern himself with the City's critical financial problems, which he seems much better placed to address than the other candidates. I believe that all the other candidates would be worse for San Diego on the key issues of importance to conservatives. For example, Nathan Fletcher claims that he is a Christian but he campaigned against Prop. 8, lobbied for the repeal of "Don't Ask...Don't Tell", and was the only Republican in the California Legislature that voted for S.B. 48 (the "Gay Role-Model" Bill). In contrast, I am not aware that Carl DeMaio has ever publicly supported any of these anti-Christian causes.
As an example of my thought process, if Romney becomes the Republican candidate for President then I will certainly support him as well, even though I would much prefer Santorum or Gingrich, since the alternative is far worse. By the same reasoning, and given our choices for Mayor, I would like to know who you would support among the existing candidates who stand any chance of success. Carl DeMaio was also at the grand opening of Pastor Jim Garlow's new Skyline Church last Sunday and he stayed for the Worship Service. I have told him that I would pray for him. By endorsing him for Mayor, I am not endorsing his lifestyle. Yet, out of Christian concern for his well being, and the well being of our City, I believed that he deserves my support. I hope that by associating with good Christians, that he will become a better person, as I hope for all of us.
I have donated close to five million dollars in pro bono work to various Christian causes over the last decade, including the Mt. Soledad Cross case and Prop. 8. This has been done at great sacrifice to me and my family and I do not feel that I should have to justify myself to anyone. Yet, I feel that you have unfairly attacked my good name and reputation that are very important to me. I do not understand, James, why you have attacked me the way you did. When you said that you needed money for AIDS medicine some time ago I sent it to you. You have now accused me of not coming to your defense against attacks by militant gay activists; however, we who have worked hard to pass Prop. 8 and publicly resist the militant gay agenda have all suffered such attacks. Just Google my name and you will see that the attacks against me by the gay lobby have been particularly vicious at times. I have reconciled myself to the fact that such persecution comes with the territory in defending our Christian faith. Indeed, our Lord promised us that we would be persecuted in His name. I do not expect such attacks, however, from fellow Christians. I will continue to pray for you James and hope that you will try to rectify any harm that you have done to my good name.
Download the full exchange here.